Writers’ Dirty Secrets, Part 1

Oh, you already know: writers are the worst.

Joan Didion insisted that “[w]riters are always selling somebody out.” Hardcore reporters will usually do whatever they have to do to get information that no one else has, even if they end up using that info against the person who gave it to them.

Then there’s the list of writers whose internal landscapes were blighted by narcissism, egotism, jealousy, rage, infidelity, clinical depression, and crippling self-doubt – not to mention various forms of substance abuse and its accompanying bad behaviors.

Writers who are good, kind, uncomplicated, stable people with no issues or baggage are, let’s face it, the exception, not the rule. Because, you know, I mean.

If a person is good, kind, uncomplicated, and stable with no issues or baggage, what is compelling them to waste their lives doing something as bafflingly useless and futile as writing? If there is no knot in a person’s brain made up of guilt and pain caused by slights and regret and rejection and failures of kindness and humiliation and bad behavior toward other people, then what purpose could their creating art possibly serve?

Undamaged people have fewer conflicts in them than damaged people. Most writers are damaged people full of conflict. There is no art – and no attempt to create art – without conflict.

Let’s talk more about this tomorrow.

Ernie. Super-drunk, big game hunter, misogynist, suicide. Wrote The Sun Also Rises, A Moveable Feast, A Farewell to Arms, etc.
Jim. Insufferable boozer, professional moocher, never said, “Thanks.” Wrote Ulysses, Finnegan’s Wake, etc.
Will. Left “second best bed” to wife after he died. Wrote Macbeth, Hamlet, The Tempest, etc.
Nick. Loves puppies, warm cookies, and kissing her hand in the automatic car wash “just because.” Wrote The Notebook and more than 20 other horrible bestselling books that were immediately made into movies.